Bernie Sanders, a Democratic candidate for the 2016 presidential race, addressed the economy, healthcare, foreign policy, environmental issues and student debt and tuition in his most recent stop in Charlottesville. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Doug Blackmon interviewed Sanders at UVA’s Miller Center September 14 for a taping of “American Forum.”
Though just over 100 spectators were able to watch the taping live in the studio, the Miller Center’s lawn filled with people, mainly UVA students, who hoped to catch a glimpse of the presidential hopeful and longest serving independent senator in U.S. history. Upon arriving, Sanders addressed the large crowd of fans, many of which were outfitted in Bernie 2016 gear, and loud cheers erupted from the lawn.
“No president can do it alone—we need a political revolution of millions of people,” he said in the interview, noting that Hillary Clinton is currently the leading Democratic candidate according to the polls. “We have the energy. We are gaining more and more support.”
Known for connecting with a younger crowd, Sanders said 80 percent of young people did not vote in the last election, calling them “asleep at the wheel” and encouraging everyone in attendance to join his democratic socialist society.
On foreign policy, he said, “I am not the former secretary of state of the United States of America.” Unlike Hillary Clinton, who was a senator while he was a congressman, he said he voted against the war in Iraq and much of what he feared would happen in the Middle East, like the destabilization of that region, turned out to be true. Although he has less experience than Clinton, he concluded, his “judgment has been pretty good.”
He also noted that his presidential campaign aims to support the working class better than Clinton’s and that his competition hasn’t taken a stance on Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Keystone Pipeline, which Sanders heavily opposed, or climate change, which he says is undeniably caused by humans and a threat to the earth.
Addressing Blackmon’s question about what Sanders would want his presidential cabinet to look like, he said, “I want my top administrators to look like America. We need the diversity of America in the top levels of government.” He said he doesn’t want all Wall Street workers in his cabinet, but rather people who understand the needs of the working class.
“I don’t trust Wall Street,” he said.
Sanders said he supports raising minimum wage to $15 nationwide, but acknowledged it could potentially harm some small businesses. He believes healthcare should be a right given to all people, not just a privilege. And while he doesn’t think every American needs a college degree to succeed, he thinks free tuition should be given to anyone who desires a job that requires higher education.
Blackmon fudged reading the teleprompter while signing off after the show, and the journalist asked to cut and redo the signoff. “Oh, you use a teleprompter?” Sanders joked. “Where’s mine?”
This episode of “American Forum” will air on PBS on October 11 at 7:30am and 1:30pm, as well as the WORLD channel at those times on October 14.